Cochon

930 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 588-2123; cochonrestaurant.com

When it opened in 2006, Cochon didn’t just signal the faith that co-chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski had in the city’s post-Katrina recovery. It also was an early exhibit in the case that a modern, chef-led restaurant based on Louisiana country cooking could thrive in this Creole city. Dazzlingly popular now, it can be a hard reservation to get but a prized one for a menu that breaks whole hog cooking into a progression of small plates and hearty entrees, leavened by fresh herbs and an eye for detail. The seafood and creatively wrought salads never disappoint. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. $$$$

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Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Chef Paul Prudhomme opened his restaurant K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in the French Quarter in 1979.

Matthew Hinton

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

416 Chartres St., (504) 596-2530; kpauls.com

The restaurant that made the late, great Paul Prudhomme a household name is still firmly affixed to the New Orleans dining map, and countless tourists cycle through. Yet it remains a distinctive, one-of-a-kind dining experience, which now also preserves the robust Cajun style that Prudhomme introduced to the world. This is a place to reconnect with the enduring glory of proper blackened fish (usually drum these days), bronzed swordfish and duck and shrimp Dulac under veal glace. While expensive at dinner, K-Paul's remarkably different, deli-style lunch is one of the best values in the French Quarter. Lunch Thursday-Saturday, dinner Monday-Saturday. $$$$$

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New Orleans Advocate photo by Matthew Hinton-- Toups' Meatery manager Larry Nguyen mixes a Toups Manhattan cocktail with candied meat garnish.

Toups’ Meatery

845 N. Carrollton Ave., (504) 252-4999; toupsmeatery.com

Fine dining chefs all across the land are taking on rural comfort food. But few have so rich a tradition to draw from as chef Isaac Toups, who hails from the Cajun prairie, and fewer still achieve the kind of genuine gusto you get here. Barbecue goat, confit chicken thighs and a seafood couvillion sluiced with crab fat are calling cards. The boudin, head cheese and cracklin’ on generous charcuterie boards could have come from an Acadiana butcher shop, while gastrique and demi glace and sherry vinaigrette bring fine dining touches to the rustic framework. The joy of this Mid-City meatery-eatery is how it performs like a high-aiming bistro but still feels like an approachable neighborhood joint. The chef is poised to open a second restaurant, Toups South, in October in Central City. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. $$$$

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.